mardi 29 avril 2014

French audience - HowTo be understood

Over and over again I my french colleagues say "I didn't hear what he said". The problem is that people in France aren't used to listening to english speaking people, so it's much more difficult for them to capture the message the speaker is trying to relay.

Discussing the problem with some peers we've come up with a few simple ideas that can make things better. It's not that I have tried them out nor am I an expert on the matter, but I just have the urge to share those simple ideas with you.

  • Speak slowly
  • Use basic words
  • Put more words on your slides
  • Translate slides
  • Present with a local speaker
  • Use non verbal communication
    • point to objects, images
    • use drawings
    • use expressions, show feelings
Also for conference organisers, people from non english speaking countries usually are easier to understand.

Speak slowly

Sure you'll cover less stuff - but so what, quality always beats quantity. Of course I'd forget that after about 30 seconds! So what I'd do is ask someone in the audience to raise a sign with "slow down" written on it from now and then. If you are co-presenting with a local speaker this is one of the things he can help with.

Use basic words

I've seen some prominent speakers use a very precise vocabulary, it was impressive. But it was too elaborate for 80% of the audience. What does it matter if 20% really get it if the rest misses most of it? 

Put more words on your slides 

This is contrary to good presentations - you're suppose to have only a handful of words per  slide. But that is when the audience have an easy time hearing what you say. In fact if you see some key words on the slides, it helps you hear them.

Translate slides

You can usually get someone (conference organizer, course attendant, a college student) to spend a little time translating your slides. If not, ask on twitter.

Present with a local speaker

Take the opportunity to present your subject with a local speaker. They're experts in French people and can help reach the audience in every way. There are plenty of people who would jump on this opportunity. 

The rest of the ideas are pretty self explanatory.

Please help improve this list!

I aim to make recommendations to english speaking speakers at AgileGrenoble this year, please help me improve those recommendations.

PS: Thanks to Manuel Vacelet, Sandro Mancuso and Remy Sanlaville for helping me elaborate this small list.

Note : Thanks to Pascal Van Cauwenberghe for adding the ideas of Translating slides and suggesting what he often does - present with a local speaker!